Archive for the ‘holiday gift baskets’ Category

Monday Marketing: The Holidays are Coming!!

I just did the following post for Handmadeology, as I am doing a series on niche marketing. And…in the 24 hours since it was completed, I have sold a basket and done a $100 order on Etsy. I can’t emphasize enough the need to plan ahead for this buying season. I was freaking out because I hadn’t done any planning, so I used the blog post as my think tank. It worked really well. Hopefully you will find some use for this post, and you can read the previous posts in niche marketing.

Marketing 101: Niche Markets Part 7

Can the Holidays Be Far Behind?

Part 1: Niche Markets

Part 2: What is your wackiest marketing idea?

Part 3:  Getting out there

Part 4:  Have you done your newsletter?

Part 5: Your Newsletter Revisited

Part 6: Packaging and Displays – Field Trip Time!

 

I am sitting here on September, nearly panicking because I don’t have my plans done for this coming holiday season. Actually, this is good, because for the last few years I have missed the holiday season completely. Teaching always got in the way, and the next thing I know, it’s a week after Cyber Monday. I am bound and determined not to let that happen this year.

I’m using this post to think through my plan, so you can see exactly where I’m going with ideas, and I sure hope you join in with additional ideas. As you read through these, you’ll probably notice these are basic marketing tasks, not just for a niche market.

* I need to set goals for this holiday shopping season, so I can start the actual planning.

– My newsletter will have specials each month with a holiday theme. The newsletter that went out last week advertised a new pattern for a table runner that would make an easy gift for     a  holiday hostess.

– The Etsy shop will be stocked to the brim with a variety of items: small quilts,   large quilts, patterns, pattern kits, marbled fabrics, ribbons, gift baskets. We are  up to almost 40 items at this point, with another 10 to be added in this weekend.

– I will sell at least 10 gift baskets of marbled fabric goodies (I aimed for 5 last year  and actually made it). I need to get supplies for these and begin the handcrafted bowls – perfect task for watching television at night.

– I will determine a nonprofit to receive a percentage of sales for this holiday  season. This involves looking locally, deciding on a percentage, before/after      shipping, and how to advertise this.

–  I will create a marketing plan that includes website, blog, Facebook business page, newsletter, personal email contacts, and anything else that comes to mind.

* Thoughts on actual marketing:

– I will determine coupon/discount specials for the newsletter, the FB page, and the Etsy store for each month, starting now.

– I will create long-term coupons to go in all mailings and gift baskets.

– I will sketch out what needs to be accomplished during each month, prior to Thanksgiving Black Friday.

– I will continue to create product for the Etsy store so that I do not run out before the beginning of December.

– I will check for all packaging/mailing supplies and stock up during sales.

– I will investigate the new Promotesy as a way of increasing my visibility during the holiday season by connecting all my social media profiles together. Certainly  the price is right, and I want to track how it does for me in bringing more traffic to my store.

* Each month:

– September: clothesline for fabric bowls, create at least 3; marble fabric for gift    baskets; complete Etsy inventory for this month; start listing what still needs to be marbled for other goodies; newsletter special.

– October: three new fabric bowls; check on nonprofit and determine accounting   for discounts; marbling for new products; new pattern up on Etsy; newsletter  special.

– November: plan for Black Friday and Cyber Monday; three more fabric bowls; marbling new fabric; new pattern up on Etsy; newsletter specials and reminders about Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales; determine last day to ship in December to be sure items arrive.

December: last sale newsletters; last fabric bowls; complete last-minute marbling; last shipments.

So that’s thoughts to get us started. I would love to hear what you would like to add to these ideas. I’ll share everything that comes in, and let’s keep each other on track for a good holiday season!

Introducing….Holiday Gift Baskets!

Well, actually….they’re fabric bowls, but somehow “introducing fabric bowls” doesn’t have the same ring. So this has got all the goodies of a holiday basket, but it comes in a fabric bowl that you can use throughout the year, rather than trying to figure out what to do with another straw basket. Which I must admit I thought was waaayyyy better.

Here she is! This holiday treat starts with a hand-crafted fabric bowl, in a subdued color that makes the bowl perfect for year-round use. Then it’s filled with goodies from the marbling tray: a fat quarter (18 by 22 inches) of 100% hand-marbled cotton; 4 pieces of hand-marbled Offray ribbon, in assorted sizes and width, all 18 inches in length; a 10% off coupon for our Etsy store (fabrics and small art quilts and table runners); coupons from other artists with offers for their websites; a Smapler Package of eight 6 by 9 inch hand-marbled pieces; a selection of hand-marbled silk leaves and flowers, perfect for embellishments; a set of four Digital Marbling (TN) note cards; and…a small mystery gift.

I want the fabric bowls to be in a rather subdued set of colors, as I want them to 1) fit just about any decor, and 2) be useful all year round. A “red” bowl tends to limit use. The actual bowl in this package is a nice mellow green.

The “basket” comes wrapped in plastic and fits in a priority box, surrounded by shipping peanuts. You can have it sent to yourself, o4 let us know the address and we will ship it.


This is a $50 retail value, special available for the holidays for $35.00. Want one? Head to our Etsy store and buy the one there. We’ll add additional ones as they sell, so you can see exactly what you will be getting for colors and fabrics.

These have been really fun to put together, especially choosing fabrics for the bowls. And if you haven’t tried making these fabric bowls, they are incredibly soothing….wrapping fabric while you’re watching television, or in the car, or waiting in the doctor’s office…..There are a couple of good books available if your LQS doesn’t offer a class:

We are affiliates for Amazon, so if you order through our blog, we do receive a commission (keeping the FTC happy….).

Wha? Where? Huh?

So the week has been so busy – and so amazing – that I’m almost stunned as to what to do next……I’ve been sewing up a storm on a commission that I would like to finish by Thanksgiving, making lists, and not seeming to check anything off of them. I’m as busy as during the school year, but what’s SO wonderful is that it is all of my own making, and ALL things I want to do.

Jury duty on Tuesday, and I need to be sure I have plenty with me, as I will be the day without a computer (no iPad yet….). I can probably spend time doing lesson plans for my first class a week from now, and then I will just need to spend time doing the presentations at home on the computer. I don’t have any hand sewing yet – saving that for a trip to Sedona in mid-October. I can only do so much listing…. Got a couple of thank-you notes to write, so that’s for Tuesday.

While I’m at jury duty, hubby will do the alum, and then we’ll start marbling for several large projects over the next month. I’m going to post the holiday basket this week and start marketing those. Speaking of the baskets, we did a lot of marbling of silk flowers and leaves last week – some of the look superb!

The two items on the lower right are experiments: one is  clay ornament – curious to see if it marbles (and it does…), and the other is a small piece of wood – could do some interesting things with that…..Both were successful, and the leaves look spectacular.

These will all be part of the gift baskets going up on Etsy and soon to be available here. The next two months will be crazy – which is good, because for the last two years we haven’t taken advantage of the main holiday season. Not so this year!

So get busy and make art!!

P.S. I LOVE my new Mac!!

What’s Available This Week

Busy week at the marbling ranch….getting ready for a marbling session tomorrow – lots of leaves for our holiday baskets, new fat quarters, and some ribbon coming. In the meantime, here are some goodies available now in our various shops.

On Ebay this week: some great remnants. These are hand-marbled Kaufman cotton remnants,  fifteen (15) pieces, in  assorted colors and designs.  Sizes are 3×6, 1×9, 8×9, 5×8, 4×15, and 6×17 inches.  All pretreated, heatset,  and preshrunk – ready to go for your project. Perfect for art projects,  scrap booking, quilt blocks, doll clothes,  book marks, embellishment,  accessorizing.

On Etsy this week, a really gorgeous piece of hand-marbled crepe.

Hand-marbled silk crepe fabric in a contemporary wave pattern. Size 10 by 28 inches. Edges are serged solely to prevent raveling. There is so much movement to this piece, and the colors are summer-bright. You can use this for a center medallion, for applique flowers – nice and bright for a basket design! Fabric is pretreated and heat-set – ready to go for your project. Also perfect for ATCs and small art works.

Also on Etsy, a unique table runner, made of a batik that is machine quilted, edges serged, and then woven in strips for this look.

And on Cafe Press this week: our best-selling journal. One of our most favorite Digital Marbling (TN) pieces on the front of a journal. With the increase in personal journals, you owe yourself a great design!

Go ahead and browse – you never know what you’ll find! Start shopping early.

Don’t forget our coming Holiday baskets – perfect for the artist or crafter who needs some unusual goodies. More on this next week.

Monday Marketing – The “Duh” Moment

Oy, sometimes ya just need to be hit with the proverbial two-by-four….For YEARS we have worked on product with our marbled fabrics, and we have also tried lots of different venues for arts and craft shows. Some product has worked, which has been good. The art and craft show circuit – not at all. We invariably lose money. We take framed work, digital work, fabrics, digital cards…..nothing sells because most people don’t have a clue what to do with the fabric.

Now we’re working on putting together our gift baskets for the holiday season. We know that we can keep these going year round by keeping the hand-crafted bowls a fairly neutral color, as well as adding in some seasonal items. It dawned on us, as we threw away the latest offer for a holiday craft show, that all we could really bring was the baskets.

Well, duh. The baskets all along could have been the seller. All in one place, items for that family member that can be hard to buy for. Shrink-wrapped. Lots of goodies. No worry or muss. No explaining how to use the fabrics.

And then….as we’re talking about maybe choosing a couple of shows for next year, it occurs to us we could offer the gift baskets in two sizes, small and large.

Duh.

All these years, staring us in the face, and we never saw it.

Sometimes we work so hard and miss the obvious. Right now I’m pretty irritated with us for this having taken so long. But on the other hand, now we have a great new product that should work long-term and give us a lot to build on for more stuff in the baskets. Who knows what else we might have missed along the way?

Suggestions?

Wednesday Work in Progress

This photo is from one of my most favorite spots in the world – a small park somewhere on the Li River in Guilin, China. I’ve done some cropping, but this is the focus of the latest class I am taking from Quilt University: Artists Revisited. Technically I should have chosen a painting by one of the masters, but I have always wanted to translate some of my own photos to fabric, so I chose this. My colors aren’t an exact match, as they should be for this exercise, but I am happy with what I have chosen. I worked on the background first and then came to the foreground, where I realized it was extremely busy. Here’s what I’ve got:

It’s obviously rough, and the trees are missing. I am going to start the thread painting, and then I’ll add the trees toward the end of that step. This is taking a much longer time for me, as I want to really think through each of the thread painting stages. The first step will be the horizon lines, and then I’m going to practice on the “crags” to see what I can do to accent and at the same time soften the mountains. I’d love suggestions for ideas to “paint” the sections.

Also, I’ve been making cloth baskets as a start for our Holiday offerings: we’re doing a “basket, which is really a fabric bowl suitable for all year round, as I’m creating them with some fairly neutral fabrics. The thinking is that a bowl might be more useful around the house than a basket.

Once the bowls are done, they will then get filled with all kinds of goodies:

* A fat quarter of hand-marbled fabric on 100% cotton

* Four pieces of hand-marbled Offray ribbon, assorted sizes and widths

* A selection of coupons and discounts from a variety of Etsy sellers, good for use in their individual stores

* A Sampler Package of 6 by 9 inches swatches of hand-marbled fabrics

* A selection of hand-marbled leaves and flowers

* A set of note cards with Digital Marbling (TN) designs

* and…some type of mystery gift.

We totaled up costs, and the retail value of this offering is $75.00. We’ll be selling the Holiday Bowl Packages for $50.00. Now each order will be different, as every piece of marbled fabric is unique in its creation. No two Bowl Packages will be the same.

Here’s the deal – for the next week, you can order these Holiday Bowl Packages for 20% off. Email us with your order, and we’ll do an invoice and arrange shipping. This offer ends on Wednesday, September 7.

Here’s the start of one of the Holiday Bowls…..

Think of all those family members who like fabric and are really hard to shop for – this will be totally unique!

 

Holiday Opportunity – Coupons

I need to think this through, and writing seems the best way for me to work out all the details and kinks. We are doing holiday gift baskets, and we are in the process of putting together the samples for photography. We did this a number of years ago and had a lot of success. The idea is to offer a basket of goodies, mostly marbled items. But…we would also like to include some coupons, and not just for us. We will have a coupon for 10 percent off anything in our Etsy store.

We are looking for others who would like to stick a coupon in our basket. Why? 1) You could make some sales. 2) Not a lot of work involved in this promotion – create the coupon and send us 10-15 copies. 3) This is a chance to move some goodies that could be strictly holiday promotions. 4) It gets your name out to potentially a different audience.

Seems like it’s a win-win situation for all of us. Postage, printing, and some design time. That’s all it takes. You get unexpected advertising as we promote our gift baskets, and this is something we will continue all year long. If you think you have something that you create that our customers would be interested in, be specific in your coupon – expiration date, amount of discount, what items, contact information, and anything else you think is important. Once the basket leaves us for its new home, it’s up the the recipient to deal directly with you, so be specific.

You’re getting a first shot at this coupon idea – I plan to advertise for coupons through the TAFA List, Art Marketing group on Linked In, and the Art Business group on Linked In. Plus…you get to advertise the gift basket if you would like – we’ll send you one of our coupons.

If you are interested, let me know in the Comments and I’ll send you more information. We’d like to have all coupons by October 31 so we can begin advance sales. Anything we’ve forgotten? Any questions? Just let me know.

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